Weakest link Quiz Champion Special
OK, I will put my cards on the table here. I was asked whether I would be prepared to appear on this special show, and of course I said that I would. However it wasn’t a simple as that, since the production team were keeping their options open by sounding out more champs than they needed, and so I was just one of the possibles. After a couple of weeks they got back to me, and I hadn’t made the cut. OK, no problem. Then a few weeks later the team were in touch again. Someone had dropped out, so they said, and was I still interested ? Sure – I said. I’d have loved to add this show to the CV. Well – they said – we’ve just a couple of other people to talk to , so we’ll let you know. Once again, I didn’t make the cut. Yeah, I’m gutted, but c’est la vie. I’ve had more than my fair share of luck when it comes to getting on shows in the past. I wished them good luck, and promised myself to give the show a fair hearing – er – viewing – when it eventually came round.
So – who were the ones who did make the cut ? First was Bill McKaig. Now, Bill is a 15 to 1 champion, and more than that he set the highest ever score - a maximum possible 433 - on the show. Next champion was Kerri, and I’m sorry if you read this, but I don’t know your surname, who was the biggest ever prize winner on Pointless. David Edwards is a fellow MM champion, and the first champ to go on to win £1 million on Millionaire. Jenny Harris you probably remember from the victorious Emmanuel College team, 2010 champions of University Challenge. Ravi – and I’m sorry, sir, if you read this but I don’t know your surname either, won the largest ever amount on The Weakest Link. Judith Keppel, of course, is an Egghead and the first Million pound winner on Millionaire. Ian Bayley was the first person – and at the time of writing still the only person – to do the Triple Crown of winning Mastermind, Brain of Britain and Only Connect. Stephanie Bruce won the 2007 BBC big budget People’s Quiz. Last but not least, Chris Hughes, Mastermind and Brain of Britain champion, and Egghead. So you can't say that they did badly in the ones they picked.
Now, this was the Weakest Link. If it were a heavier show, then you’d have backed one of the big hitters – without wishing to do anyone else a disservice I think particularly of Bill, David, Ian and Chris here – to win. But TWL is a whole different ball game. Witness the way that Ian was voted off in the first round, after the team had raced off to the £1000 . Tactical voting ? Well, put it this way. If I had been in the show, I wouldn’t have wanted to be facing Ian in the last round. Still, who can tell ? It certainly wasn’t a unanimous verdict. Jenny Harris was next to leave. Once again the team had put a maximum in the pot, so it was a little bit of a lottery as to who to vote for. Poor Jenny just happened to be on the receiving end. In the next round we saw the champs just begin to falter a little. Both Bill and David got one wrong apiece, but Judith missed out on both of hers. I wondered whether Chris would vote against his fellow Egghead here. He didn’t, but enough of the others did, and so she was eliminated. In the next round, the 4th, Kerri got one wrong, but Bill made an error right at the end of the round, calling out ‘save’ rather than ‘bank’. This seemed to catch the eye, as he received three votes, however there was what looked like a bit of tactical voting to oust Chris, so it seemed, as he too received three votes. However Chris was actually the strongest link, and so that was it for Bill. 4 down.
I’ll be honest, I thought that David had blown his chances with a huge hesitation in the next round. However Anne made a point of saying that someone was banking too early, and everyone knew she was referring to Kerri. Hard lines on her, since she was voted out , largely on the strength of this, one suspects. As for David, though, it was only a stay of execution. Although down to the last four, he was voted out, leaving a last three of Steph, Ravi and Chris. Ravi , when spoken to between rounds , said that he believed that he hadn’t had one wrong yet. Fatal error. he didn’t have many wrong in the next round, but it was enough to catch the eye of both Chris and Steph. Full marks to both of them for voting out the weakest link in that crucial round. In the last round, once again they zoomed out to £1000 without error, to make a record total for a game played under normal rules of £7,750.
As for the head to head, Steph made no mistakes. The strongest link from the previous round, she elected to go second. Chris scored 3 from 5, which meant that Steph’s 4 from her first 4 took the win. Her nominated charity was the Cambridge Fund for the Prevention of Disease. Well done !
Well, this was just one of a week of special shows to say goodbye to the show. I haven’t watched the others. As I say, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t selected for this one, and that I’ll never get to add the show to the list, but that’s life. As a few words on the ending of the show for good , well, I’ll just repost here a few observations made when the news that the show was calling it a day first came out last year:-
Any quiz which notches up more than a decade has done well, especially in these days. It started as a BBC2 show, and then graduated to the tricky BBC1 teatime slot, a measure of its popularity, even if the prime time big money version never really caught on. It’s also been one of the most successfully franchised quiz shows ever produced in the UK – only Millionaire has had more licensed versions made in other countries. If it’s responsible for nothing else, WL is the quiz that made meanness permissible. Before WL , can you ever remember a question master on TV telling a contestant just how stupid their stupid answer really was ? Quite a number of shows have tried to pick up the idea of getting contestants to be mean to each other and run with it since, with varying degrees of success. One brings to mind the dreadful 'Shafted' – so bad that it was scrapped without the whole series being aired, if I recall correctly. Then there were “Sell Me The Answer”, and “Divided” where if I'm honest I found the unfairness just grating, and certainly not entertaining. WL may never have been my favourite quiz, but even I would admit that it managed to do mean with a little bit of style at least.